Today, May 1, we celebrate Saint Joseph the Worker. In addition to this feast, today is also my parents’ anniversary – Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad! Not until now have I contemplated the beauty of this shared date.
God blessed me abundantly, extravagantly even, with these parents and this family that grew from their love.
Like St. Joseph, they brought me up in the ways of God and gave me my most precious gift, that of faith. From there, the list of gifts is endless. One of those gifts that I am so grateful for is that of a strong work ethic – something also so beautifully exemplified by Saint Joseph as he lovingly taught Jesus his craft and then as they worked side by side to provide for others and their family.
Growing up, I had many opportunities to learn new skills and to use those skills to be a helping member of the family.
I had the usual household and yard chores, but had some unique jobs as well. For many years, my parents crafted ceramics and sold them at craft fairs – no doubt the source of my love for all things crafty! I helped with pouring molds, loading and unloading the kiln, and painting.
Summers were spent helping my dad on the farm.
From raking and hauling hay to walking miles of soybean fields with a cotton hoe in hand chopping and pulling weeds, I was no stranger to manual labor. At the time, I was no fan of the early mornings, mud caked shoes, scorching sun, or swarms of gnats that plagued us each day. But today, I can recall with fondness the time spent with siblings and cousins, the satisfaction of a job well done, and the pride in my daddy’s eyes when he saw those clean fields.
My parents are some of the most multi-talented and generous people I know.
I tease my dad saying that he is a “jack of all trades but master of none”, but truth be told, he is a master of an unbelievable number things. And mom is my artistic muse and can do anything she sets her mind to doing. Like Saint Joseph they had me at their side growing up, and to this day, teaching me the how of doing things, but also the why—the importance of doing a job and doing it to the best of my ability, working the problem to completion, doing the job that needs done despite my interest or desire, lending a helping hand when asked and offering to help get the job done even when my part is finished.
While I refer to this as a strong work ethic, wrapped up in that is compassion, charity, and perseverance.
These are gifts that I carry with me each day that help me to be a better person, therapist, colleague, friend, sister, aunt, and daughter. To this day we are a “helping” family. We have moved each other countless times, painted innumerable walls, tiled all the floors, trimmed the trees, and so many other things. And the thing we always marvel at is that even though it is often hard work, it is always fun because it is time spent together.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Joseph by the work of your hands and the sweat of your brow, you supported Jesus and Mary, and had the Son of God as your fellow worker.
Teach me to work as you did, with patience and perseverance, for God and for those whom God has given me to support. Teach me to see in my fellow workers the Christ who desires to be in them, that I may always be charitable and forbearing towards all.
Grant me to look up work with the eyes of faith, so that I shallow recognize in it my share if God’s own creative activity and in Christ’s work of our redemption, and so take pride in it.
When it is pleasant and productive, remind me to give thanks to God for it. And when it is burdensome, teach me to offer it to God, in reparation for me sins and the sins of the world.
(This prayer was taken from the booklet “Devotions to Saint Joseph” by Brian Moore, S.J., printed and published by the Society of St. Paul).